WINE fans may seem to have an odd attitude to sweetness, dismissing some popular wines as being far too sugary, while exulting at many of the far sweeter ‘dessert’ wines.
So what’s up with that?
Well, one of the keys is balance. From a light marmalade-inflected botrytis wine to a mahogany-coloured fortified such as unctuous PX sherry, the natural sugar is the soft bed for bright flavours, from citrus to floral.
Similarly with semi-sweet wines, particularly the utterly gorgeous tang of a slightly off-dry German riesling, one of the pinnacles of wine-drinking pleasure and surprisingly affordable.
* On my blog (blakecreedon.wordpress.com) this weekend I’m following up on a handful of items raised in today’s column, including a handy deconstruction of the seemingly baffling German wine labels such as today’s Carl Ehrhard — it’s simple really and well worth getting a handle on.
* Neil Ellis of Stellenbosch in South Africa is centre stage in Cork and Dublin next week: ‘Seafood & Sauvignon’ is a five-course wine dinner on Monday at 7.30pm at the Hayfield Manor Hotel in Cork — a restaurant which got a starry review in these pages just a fortnight ago. It’s great value at €69 a head. The five-star hotel is also offering a €165pps package which includes dinner and breakfast. Book on 021-4845900 or see www.hayfieldmanor.ie.
The following night, from 5pm to 7pm at Ouzos Bar and Grill in Blackrock, Co Dublin, there’s an open-ended “walk around” tasting accompanied by seafood canapés. It’s €15 per person, or €25 for two. Alternatively, at 8pm, enjoy a four-course winemaker’s dinner complemented by Neil Ellis’s wines for €60 a head. Again, a treat and a bargain.
* Superquinn is hosting a wine evening at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin 8, on Thursday from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, party food and nibbles will be served; admission €18.
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’RK’ Riesling Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt 2007
Imported by Searson’s (01-2800405); €15.50.
A smashing peaches and pears German classic. The lower alcohol (weighing in at about 11% ABV) is merely a bonus.
Stockists: McCabes, Foxrock, Blackrock; On The Grapevine, Booterstown & Dalkey; Lonergans, Clonmel; O’Donovans, Cork; Harvest, Galway; Le Caveau, Kilkenny; Patrick Stewart, Sligo; Castle Inn, Tralee; Ardkeen Stores, Waterford.
Loosen Brothers ‘Dr L’ Riesling 2007
O’Donovan’s off-licences, €12
One bonus with the classic off-dry German riesling is its light alcohol, in this instance less than 10%. Also try M&S who stock a more upmarket version of Loosens’ Riesling.
Carl Ehrhard Green Label Spätlese feinherb 08
Down from €14.95 to €13.45 at Karwig’s, Carrigaline, Co Cork, or www.karwigwines.ie.
This is a touch sweeter than the Orange, but as ever the key is balance: it’s a succulent moreish style. I think even people who prefer dry wine will be wowed by this succulent riesling.
Brown Brothers Orange Muscat and Flora
From €10 to €11.50 for 375ml half bottle
This family winery in Victoria has a deserved reputation for developing lesser-used grapes to great effect, and so it is with their dessert wine — two rare grapes rescued from obscurity to deliver the tang of fresh orange on a bed of honey in a thoroughly modern sticky wine.
Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato
€6.99 for 375ml half bottle
And now for something completely different — serious Yarra valley winemakers Giant Steps are making a virtue of frivolity in their take on the moscato: a relatively low-alcohol (5.5% ABV) floral-scented strawberry bombe.
Peter Lehmann Botrytis Semillon Barossa
About €10 to €11 for 375ml half bottle
Like Sauternes, this one achieves its heady succulence by means of the ‘noble rot’ botrytis to its Bordeaux semillon grape. Skip dessert and have this alongside a good, bitter black coffee.
Stockists include Next Door, Kilkee and Kilrush; O’Donovan’s, Cork; Beer Garden, Turner’s Cross; The 1601, Kinsale.